Major League Soccer (MLS) and US Soccer have agreed an exclusive data rights deal with Stats Perform that will enable them to collectively provide real-time data to betting operators for the first time.
The deal is the first to be agreed after US Soccer and MLS opted to pool their data rights to increase their commercial appeal and is understood to have been facilitated by Soccer United Marketing (SUM) the for-profit marketing arm of MLS and the exclusive marketing partner of US Soccer.
Under the deal, which runs until the end of the 2022 season, Stats Perform will exclusively collect and analyse official MLS and US Soccer live stadium data and distribute it to US and global betting operators and media companies.
As part of the agreement, Stats Perform will also provide integrity services and data coverage of over 3,000 US Soccer development academy matches through its Opta player data service. It is anticipated US Soccer and MLS will use the service for match analysis and to identify and develop talent.
Stats Perform has had a long-standing separate relationship with MLS and this deal sees them continue as the league’s official data supplier. The previous agreement focused on the provision of Opta player analysis services to the league, and the new deal expands on this to encompass global collection and distribution of betting data and integrity services.
US Soccer also had a pre-existing partnership with Stats Perform, using its Opta services across some development academy matches.
The latest deal is much broader in scope, to now encompass betting and media collection and distribution services across the MLS, US men’s and women’s national team matches and US Soccer’s US Open Cup. Opta player analysis services will now be provided across all of these matches as well as a greater number of lower-tier US Soccer academy games.
The agreement is the first under which real-time MLS or US Soccer betting data has been offered to betting operators, either in the US or globally. But Alex Rice, chief rights officer for Stats Perform suggested the data company’s priority was to build fan engagement, particularly in the US, in order to ultimately build the appetite for in-play betting on US Soccer and MLS content.
“As much as the US betting markets are important to us, the sum of the parts were of greater value, frankly,” he told SportBusiness. “When we look at the US market going forward, we want to ensure that we’re driving value from the analytics, that we’re creating value for media operators.
“We want to make sure the continuity of what fans are seeing on ESPN is the same as what they’re seeing through the betting operators. We feel that’s really important and that the consistency plays through – it ensures the metrics they are seeing on the broadcast are also mirrored when they are engaged with their betting apps.”
Ross Moses, director of analytics, US Soccer, said the cost of providing player data analysis across all of the development matches added to the complexity of the deal and had to be factored into the rights fee.
“It’s an interesting deal because this data is critical to both sides of the organisation, sporting and commercial,” he told SportBusiness.
Aside from building engagement and generating revenues from in-play betting, he suggested the deal would help to identify talent for the national team.
“We will bring that data in, we will store it in our own cloud service and we’ve got all kinds of reporting mechanisms in place to make sure that our coaching staff are well informed and given the information that they need,” he said.
Rice said that the granular player performance data was particularly important to the two parties: “US Soccer and MLS are combining their assets in this area and it is quite unique in some respects.
“Ultimately you want to ensure that players coming through both the academies and through age groups can benefit from a consistency of performance metrics rather than having to switch and change between different vendors.”